I've noticed that sometimes when eating salad the first bite can taste quite bitter. Is this just the natural flavour of particular leaves and my palate adjusting to it?

Is there a possibility it's caused by poorly washed salad that has not had the pesticides cleaned off?

  • What sort of lettuce is it? Can you recognize it? Is it mixed greens or red leaf or romaine?
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 6:20
  • mixed leaves, notice it most with darker leaves
    – Pixelomo
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 6:21
  • 1
    I've noticed this effect myself, I do not know what causes it.
    – GdD
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 9:17
  • Could you add a picture of the "darker leaves"? I'm thinking about en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cichorium_endivia Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 9:26
  • 1
    What kind of salad? What is it made of? What vegetables are in it? How was it prepared? On what surface? How was it seasoned, dressing, olive oil, vinegar? Of which kind? There are way too many variables to be able to answer this without more details Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


The most likely thing is that it is the salad itself. Most lettuces are quite bitter plants, naturally. Modern supermarket varieties are bred for removing that bitterness, but it is not infallible, and you will still get the occasional bitter leaf. Heirloom varieties and less widespread salad plant species tend to be outright bitter. Also, endives are a widespread species which tends to be bitter even in the supermarket.

It is also normal to get a bit of a habituation for the bitter taste after the first bite. Bitterness can be an enjoyable acquired taste, even though it still catches one by surprise at the first bite.

  • Thanks this is what I wanted to know, it'll make that taste more palatable. I was worried it was the taste of pesticide but now I know it's a natural flavour.
    – Pixelomo
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 0:26

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